Thursday, September 15

Book: The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli

There comes a point in one's cynical life where you consider the question of whether it's okay to manage people. Of course it's easy enough to argue that it's impossible not to, and in fact that's all that communication is, so I guess the real question is whether or not it's okay to exploit people for their own good.

Leaving that wider question aside, I think most people would regard The Prince as a good discussion of the topic - I say discussion but it's not really seeing how prescriptive Machiavelli is in it. His themes and advice isn't hard to understand or even implement, but his justification is where the interesting stuff lies, and it's clear that he's a great believer in "the greater good" and "means being to an end". And since morality is subjective it's hard to argue against his methods that have been shown over the years to be quite effective.

It's not a long read although can be hard to follow at times, particularly if you don't know much about Italian political history. Oh and as an aside, the copy I was loaned was a pretty little book.

So I guess this isn't really a book that one learns from - if you're reading this then you probably know how to manipulate and represent yourself to others. But as a test of your own moral code - essentially whether you protest or embrace the book - it's quite a good read. And no, I won't tell you my own reaction in that much depth. That would only give the game away.

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